The Fight Against MTR, Round-Up
Weeks after the election of Barack Obama, many community activists fighting mountain top removal are becoming weary that hope may not be on way.
And for good reasons.
Obama recently nominated Lisa Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The representatives of dirty energy interests were quick to show their support. From the grist:
Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which lobbies on behalf of the energy sector, also struck a hopeful note on her selection. “Lisa Jackson is a dedicated public servant with time in service at the EPA and as head of a state agency. She has experience with enforcement and rulemaking matters,” he said. “Moreover, as head of an agency in New Jersey, she has had real-world experience dealing with areas of scenic beauty, large populations, and substantial industrial development. We hope that means she will bring a true sense of balance to a very complicated job.”
Others are not so happy. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) noted that as head of the NJ Department of Enironmental Protection, Jackson allowed New Jersey to get even dirtier, “as incredible as that may seem.”
More from the grist:
PEER also issued a highly critical press release earlier this week arguing that Jackson is “a pliant technocrat who will follow orders” and “should not run EPA.” “Jackson embraced policies at DEP echoing the very practices at the Bush EPA which Senator Barack Obama condemned during the presidential campaign,” PEER claims. “DEP employees describe Ms. Jackson as employing a highly politicized approach to decision-making that resulted in suppression of scientific information, issuance of gag order and threats against professional staff members who dared to voice concerns.”
Critics also point out that Jackson was educated on a scholarship from the Shell Oil Corporation.
Obama has also announced the appointment of Carol Browner as a sort of “environemental tsar.” Her job will be to coordinate and oversee work on energy, environmental, and climate issues. Carol Browner is a familiar name to folks who have been battling Mountain top Removal. During the Clinton years, when this mining process accellerated, Browner held a top position in the Environmental Protection Agency.
Such appointments are responsible for the recent spike in coal stocks.
In other news, several major environmental groups have launched the reality campaign. Their primary message is that clean coal is non-existant. Yet, it only addresses the fact that technology is not yet capable of sequestering carbon dioxide. Of course, carbon dioxide is not the only thing that makes coal dirty. Focusing on this is dangerous because it directs efforts (and funding) to “clean coal technology” and away from renewable energies.
Cindy Rank sums it up perfectly:
As tempting as it is to become excited about this Reality Coalition campaign i feel compelled to remind us all that the Alliance for Climate Protection is focused only on the emissions aspect of burning coal. The assumption being that once CO2 is captured and stored (as if that will ever be possible) then we have “clean coal”.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL —
— not as long as any or all methods of mining violate the law, the land, the people or the workers
— not as long as transporting that coal bullies and endangers communities along narrow roads, school buses, local drivers
— not as long as careless coal trucks and trains overturn and spill into streams and roadways
— not as long as washing that coal leaves toxic sudge to sit in unlined ponds or injected underground where it can pollute water wells and streams and local communities
— not as long as storing and moving that coal produces excessive dust that causes asthma or black lung and coats homes and towns like Blair and Sylvester or endangers nearby schools like Marsh Fork Elementary
— not as long as blasting damages wells and homes and sinks streams
— not as long as subsidence makes sinkholes out of streams, dry savanahs out of farm ponds, and homes unliveable
— not as long as landgrabbing industry reps cheat, rob or otherwise trick homeowners to sell or to turn on their neighbors who don’t
— not as long as industry reps weasel their way into county politics at the expense of small outlying communities
— not as long as that black gold corrupts politics and politicians and regulatory agencies
— not as long as industry exercises the power of its purse to quash all who stand up and speak out
— not as long as the advertising arm of the coal and power industry purposely deludes the public to advance it’s own greed
Thank goodness some state, local and regional groups as well as some of the national groups are not limiting their efforts to concerns about emissions and wearing blinders to all other aspects of the whole cycle of coal – from cradle to grave so to speak.
Finally, let me share some good news. Mountain justice activists in Tennesee have been letting the Tennesee Valley Authority know it has been very naughty this year. The TVA is one of the largest burners of coal in the nation and they get alot of their fuel from mountain top removal sites. Recently, the activists dressed up as santas and elves and delivered switches and bags of coal to TVA headquarters.
They have even been singing carols, such as this one, set to the tune of jingle bells:
Burning through the coal, burn it all today,
tearing up the mountains, blow them all away.
TVA burns coal, making lightbulbs bright,
What fun it is to light and heat all the homes tonight.
O Mining coal, mining coal, mine it all away
O What fun it is to drink coal pollution all day, hey.
Burning coal, burning coal, coughing all the way,(cough,cough,cough)
O What fun it is to breathe coal pollution all day.
A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride
See my favorite mountain, was blasted out inside.
Trees were cut and gone, the mountaintop was bare,
Holes were drilled, explosives packed, blown up without a care.
A day or two ago, a story I must tell
I went out to town, economy had fell,
Coal stocks sliding by, getting weaker every day,
Funders step aside as we quickly drive them away.
Now the time is ripe, go it while you’re strong,
Smash the grid tonight, and sing this smashing song,
Just get a bike today, 21 gears as its speed,
And when the coal runs out, you’ll pedal to the lead.
Here are their videos and pics:
Visit the links to see when santa is coming to town again.
You can find A LOT more news concerning the fight against MTR by visiting http://www.ohvec.org/ovec_news.html. OHVEC is one of the community organizations standing up to Big Coal in West Virginia. They update their news page daily.